The Exodus Road Thailand began through the journey and work of co-founders Matt and Laura Parker. In 2010, they were directing a children’s home for hill-tribe girls in rural Northern Thailand when they learned about the devastating crime of child sex trafficking in the region. As they learned more about the issue, they realized that someone needed to stand in the gap for vulnerable children in Thailand. As a result, police deputized Matt to serve as a volunteer investigator on human trafficking cases.
That early work born of personal passion quickly expanded. Now, The Exodus Road Thailand is comprised of a national team of investigators and social workers, known as Alpha Team, who work with the Anti-Human Trafficking Police in Thailand. Together, they combat human trafficking by gathering evidence against traffickers and caring for survivors. Most of their cases focus on the sex trafficking of women, girls, and boys.
From 2012 to 2021, 461 survivors of sex trafficking have been restored to freedom and 118 traffickers have been arrested through the work of The Exodus Road Thailand.
In 2018, The Exodus Road was among six NGOs awarded by the Royal Thai Police for contributing to the significant improvement in preventing and suppressing human trafficking in the country. This award came after the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons upgraded Thailand’s ranking to Tier 2 in its 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report. This marked Thailand’s best ranking in the TIP Report in a decade.
The Exodus Road Thailand also partners with NGOs to provide trauma-informed aftercare to survivors through our Beyond Rescue program. In 2021, The Exodus Road Thailand is also opening Freedom Home, a safe house and survivor care center. Freedom Home will support young adult women who are survivors of sex trafficking and human trafficking through trauma-informed therapy, medical care, life skills classes, education and entrepreneurship training, and community internships.
"Caring for trafficking survivors requires a trauma-responsive approach to care that recognizes that impact of trauma across the life span, avoids re-victimization, and leverages resilience to empower survivors. This is the goal of our aftercare program. We want to support survivors in their healing process and lead them to successful independent living."Sola LongRegional Aftercare Coordinator
From our foundational operations in Thailand, The Exodus Road’s work has now expanded to include six countries, holistically and strategically fighting human trafficking through prevention, intervention, and aftercare.
Quick Facts About The Exodus Road Thailand
- Started in 2012
- 467 survivors restored to freedom from 2012 to 2021
- 118 traffickers arrested from 2012 to 2021
- Freedom Home, a safe house and survivor aftercare program, opened in 2021
Rescue Operations in Thailand
Ireshi*, Rescued Spring 2020
Ireshi's Story of Rescue
Ireshi* was wearing Disney princess pajamas on her slight frame when they came for her, a glaring symbol of the innocence of childhood that was taken from her.
She is only 14 — and routinely sold to men under the guise of providing massage at a parlor for the past three years. Her mother, the “chiropractor” in the parlor, arranged and scheduled the “special” services with her daughter for customers who had earned her trust. She groomed her children to lie about providing sexual services to anyone who asked, exploiting them all the while.
In early spring 2020, Thai police reached out to The Exodus Road operatives for help investigating a region suspected of selling children behind the facade of massage parlors. National operatives spent time visiting this particular parlor and spotted Ireshi. They began to collect evidence of Ireshi’s abusive situation and helped police plan a mission on her behalf.
In the midst of the raid, operatives witnessed Ireshi’s bravery as she remained calm and told those around her not to be afraid. Her mother was arrested and faces charges of human trafficking.
Ireshi was taken under the care of a national social worker who told her, “Together we will bring you out of this cycle. And you will have a better life.”
*Name and image representative; written by Stephanie Kunstle
Panit*, Rescued 2019
Panit's Story of Rescue
Panit* had run away from his village in northern Thailand looking for a better life. Instead, he found himself living at a train station along with a group of homeless boys, exploited by a gang.
Living here in the central train station of the city, the boys, most without more than a third-grade education, were vulnerable. Members of a gang, men that were homeless themselves or living in short-time motels nearby, lured the homeless boys into working for them.
The work was slavery. The boys were forced to rifle through tourists’ pockets and bags, stealing whatever they could for the gang. The boys had to stay out late, selling drugs in dark alleys. And most devastatingly, the boys were forced into sex work, escorted to and from short-time motels near the train station. If the boys refused, they would be beaten and tortured by members of the gang.
One early morning, the boys woke to a commotion as 100 police officers raided the motels in a massive sweep. The mission came on the heels of intelligence gathered by The Exodus Road Thailand. Thirteen traffickers were arrested, and 15 boys and 2 girls were rescued.
Social workers sat with the children, explaining that their slavery was over. They were safe.
*Name and image representative; written by Isaac Leigh